COVID-19 Positivity Rate Continues to Decline in Buncombe, School Employees Slated to Begin Receiving Vaccinations

CDC

As of Tuesday, Feb. 16, there have been 14,671 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County since the pandemic’s start. There have been 274 COVID-19-related deaths in our community.

The number of new cases per 100,000 per week has decreased significantly since the beginning of the New Year and is now 183 per 100,000 per week and approximately 68 per day, down from 98 per day just two weeks ago.

The percent positivity also continues to decline and currently is 4.1 percent. Hospitalizations in the region continue to decline with about 6.4 percent of area inpatient beds occupied with COVID-19 patients, down from 11 percent two weeks ago.

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Vaccine Rollout

Since December 22, Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) has been vaccinating members of our community with help and support from Buncombe County Emergency Services and other partners. To date, BCHHS has administered 21,237 total vaccinations, and as of February 14, 1.6 million doses have been administered in North Carolina.

BCHHS is currently vaccinating individuals in Groups 1 and 2 – healthcare workers and adults 65 and older, respectively. Through BCHHS and private vaccine administration, approximately 10 percent of Buncombe County’s general population has received at least a first dose of the vaccine.

Currently, BCHHS is receiving 1,950 first doses of vaccine each week and is scheduling about 2,000 appointments each week. While there has been an increase in Buncombe County’s weekly allocation since beginning the rollout, vaccine supply remains very low.

On Feb. 13, BCHHS held an equity-focused vaccine event. Partnering with CHOSEN, YMCA, ABIPA, WNC Medical Society, IPHA, Housing Authority City of Asheville and Buncombe County Government, more than 330 vaccinations were administered. The vaccines were transferred to BCHHS from Appalachian Mountain Community Health Centers.

North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services now has county-level vaccination data available on a dashboard available at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/vaccinations.

According to BCHHS COVID-19 Vaccine Management System data:

  • 93 percent of vaccine recipients are individuals with a Buncombe County address.
  • 6 percent of vaccine recipients are North Carolina residents residing outside of Buncombe County.

If eligible for one of the vaccine groups, individuals can call 828-250-5000 or visit buncombeready.org to get on the waitlist. Buncombe County staff is currently calling individuals between numbers 6,500 and 8,500. Approximately 40,000 individuals remain on the wait list, and they are contacted in the order which they signed up. If individuals need to remove their name from the waitlist, please [email protected] or call us at 828-250-5000.

Vaccines for School Employees

Governor Cooper recently announced that eligibility for Group 3 would begin Feb. 24 for childcare employees and school employees in pre-k through 12th grade. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners directed BCHHS staff to begin providing vaccines to school employees by diverting one tray of vaccines – 975 doses – from each week’s general allocation. Communication about how to become part of the vaccination process will come from school and district leadership.

Please continue to practice the 3Ws to stop transmission of COVID-19, even if you’ve received a vaccine. It will take the vaccine and these important preventative measures to get our families back to a sense of normalcy. For more information about COVID-19, vaccine waitlists and COVID testing, go to www.buncombeready.org.